Monday, July 27, 2009

A Nature Walk and Other Bits of Art and Life

This week I'm teaching a class about art and nature (art made from nature, art about nature) at the Arsenal Center for the Arts. My students are four, five and six years old. Oh, forgive me! They're four, five, six and six-and-a-half. I was afraid that today would be our only sunny day this week, given the monsoon summer we've been having in Massachusetts, so I took the kids out on a looong nature walk to gather some materials for the rest of the week. I really love spending time outside (hiking and camping and all that jazz) but nothing–and I mean nothing–allows a person to fully appreciate the outdoors like a nature walk with little kids. First of all, there's the pace. The pace is slow. Every blade of grass, every pebble, every leaf, every dried-up earthworm shriveled on the pavement, is scrutinized with the utmost care. In my experience, few grown adults have the patience or the time for a true nature-walking pace. Usually, when I hike with friends or family, it's all about reaching the summit and seeing the view from the top. Nature-walking is about wandering aimlessly, looking carefully and finding things you would have ordinarily passed right by. The joy is in the process of discovery. It's just like painting, really. To further extend and distort this simile, a dried-up earthworm is sadly not like watercolors, and will therefore not reconstitute/reanimate if one gets it wet. It's more like acrylic, and may be solemnly buried or offered up to any nearby robins who might be hopping by.
Last week was so packed with teaching that I didn't get to the studio at all. The week away and my post nature walk clarity gave me fresh eyes and mind, and I rediscovered some new stories and possibilities hidden in some old, abandoned paintings fragments. I like this one so far:
I started this piece eons ago, but couldn't figure out where to go with it. Adding those ribbons to the upper right seems like the start of something interesting and layered.

In other incredibly exciting news, I spent last weekend creating a book nook in our living room.
It looks a whole lot bigger and more impressive in real life than it does in this picture. I like to lie on the couch and pretend that I live at the library.

I've also discovered something delicious: a blueberry/grapefruit smoothie. Vanilla yogurt, frozen blueberries and grapefruit juice, with a few frozen raspberries thrown in for good measure.

1 comment:

Cat B said...

Ooooooh! The book nook is beauteous! Will try the smoothie now blueberries are so plentiful. And, of course, I thought nature walks were for long talks with friends. Not any more!